Anti-depressant, Effexor Subject to Growing Product Liability Litigation

Effexor (venlafaxine) is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) manufactured by Wyeth that is prescribed to treat long and short-term depression and anxiety. Effexor was brought into the market in 1993. Pfizer acquired Wyeth in 2009.

There are several side-effects associated with the use of Effexor. One side effect that is the subject of a multidistrict ligation is regarding its effect if taken during pregnancy. Effexor is shown to cause serious birth defects if taken while a mother is pregnant.

In August 2013, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation grouped nine class actions in Pennsylvania. U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, is presiding over the cases. The panel believed she is best suited to hear the case since she is already hearing multidistrict litigation (MDL) with parallel claims involving Wyeth and Pfizer over Zoloft’s alleged links to birth defects.

Plaintiffs allege that before Wyeth and Pfizer began selling Effexor on the market, they knew its use during pregnancy increased risk that children exposed to the drug in utero would be born with serious birth defects. Furthermore, they allege that the defendants did not warn mothers or the medical community of the known risks and actively misrepresented the safety of Effexor.

On September 29, 2014, Judge Rufe issued a case management order which would allow any plaintiff whose case would be subject to transfer to the MDL proceedings the ability to file his or her case directly to the United States Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. This was done to eliminate any delays associated with the transfer to the District Court. In order to qualify for direct filing, the lawsuit must be a “single-plaintiff complaint”, involving only one child injured by exposure to Effexor.

There are currently nearly 70 Effexor cases pending in the MDL. November 18, 2014 Judge Rufe directed that 14 bellwether cases undergo discover and the process of setting the cases for trial. The plaintiffs’ bellwether selections were to have be made before Christmas and Pfizer’s due late January 2015. Of the 14 selections, only 12 will ultimately proceed to trial first since each side will be allowed to strike one case from the other’s bellwether list. Trial is expected to begin by winter 2015.

Have you or a loved one used Effexor during pregnancy and delivered a child with birth defects? If so, contact experienced Jacoby & Meyers to speak with an experience dangerous drug attorney who are dedicated to recovering compensation for affected families. For more information, contact us today.

Alexandra Bhatti, student intern Jacoby & Meyers.